Thursday, 3 August 2017

Will driving licenses be a thing of the past in the age of self-driving cars?

Driverless vehicles may seem  a long way off at the minute, but over the coming years they are going to become a lot more commonplace with people using them on a daily basis. Will it mean the end of the driving licence and changes to the rules of the road?

All around the world you can already see projects that are developing the technology that will eventually be used to bring driverless cars to our roads. For example in south-east London a white droid delivers takeaway food at a speed of just 4mph. In Paris and Helsinki robot busses are already in use.

Here in the UK current plans are to test driverless cars on roads and motorways starting in 2019. 

So far, there is no international safety standard for driverless vehicles - and each country will be responsible for writing its own rules. People are questioning whether rules for driverless vehicles should be national.

A hot issue is what ethics driverless vehicles should adopt. For example, in the case of an unavoidable accident, should a fully autonomous vehicle be programmed to career off the road, risking the lives of the people inside the vehicle, or continue into a pedestrians crossing the road?
Because human drivers make split second, instinctual decisions, human behavior cant be referenced to come up with the right answer.

Technology to handle these situations may be quite some time away meaning that for now humans will still continue to be used as back-up drivers within the vehicles.

Until cars are fully automated and don't need human input, manufacturers won't be able to dispense with steering and braking controls, meaning that YES people will still need driving licences and they'll have to ready to take control at short notice - so challenges like distraction and drunkenness will remain.

For more in depth information please read this piece by the BBC Which goes in to much more detail.

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